Before we finish my tour of Rioja with the ultimate wine experience in Haro, I have one last (and favorite) stops was Bodegas Eguren Ugarte, in the Paganos area. Situated high in the hills, with the mountains looming behind it and the stunning expanse of Rioja below, the Ugarte property combines old world charm and new world hospitality with a luxury hotel, winery, and restaurants.
Three generations of the family have made wine here since 1870, in the Basque countryside or northern Spain. With over 120,000 hectares of grapes, it’s easy to see the influence that they have had in the region.
Eguren Ugarte is known for it’s 2 kilometers of underground caves, hand dug and sloping downwards farther in to the stone hillside. Each side tunnel has private cages that can be purchased by wine lovers, and walking through the tunnels is walking back in time. While my pictures didn’t come out, there nooks and crannies with private dining areas are a particularly unique experience that must be enjoyed on any visit to Rioja.
After a tour of the caves and the hotel, we tasted through the wines before enjoying a traditional lunch in their cozy restaurant.
2010 Crianza – a young, fresh and lively blend of 92% tempranillo and 8% garnacha. The goal was to create a fresh experience without as much oak influence, and the big, dark red fruit comes through with a touch of coffee. A crowd pleasing friendly wine with a touch of anise and oak influence.
2008 Reserva – classic style, 90% tempranillo and 10 graciano, with bright acidity and firm tannins. With 14 months in new oak, and another 2 years of bottle aging ,this is Rioja at it’s best, full of smok and lavendear notes.
2004 Grand Reserva – the Queen of the dance, with 90% tempranillo and 10% mazuelo (carignane). I love the bright red fruit, currant, raspberry and tomato notes. The darker black fruit and firm tannins will age for years, and are especially tasty with grilled meats and cheese.
Eguren Ugarte is full of character and is as diverse in it’s wine as it is in it’s offerings. Step back in time in the caves; enjoy a luxurious getaway at the hotel and it’s spa; dine in one of the two restaurants. This is a must stop in the mountains of Basque Spain, even on the shortest of trips.